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How Many Emails Does It Take to Schedule a Meeting?

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

You: Hey Tim. Let's meet about the project due next month. Want to grab coffee?

Tim: For sure. When are you available?

You: I'm free next Tuesday and Wednesday if you have any time those days.

Tim: It's tight but I could make 3p on Tuesday work.

You: Sorry. I just realized that I have a conflict at that time. How about Thursday morning?

Tim: Unfortunately, I'm out of the office that day. Let's look at the week after once I'm back next week.

You: Sounds good. (Sigh)

10 messages later and the exhausting game of email ping-pong continues.

While the scenario above might seem a bit exaggerated, it’s not far off from what many of us have experienced. Either way, meeting requests have a tendency to be open-ended, leading to excessive email messages and wasted time.

Back and forth emails to schedule a meeting can waste valuable time and energy.


When Requesting a Meeting, Follow These Steps:

  1. Suggest 2-3 Dates/Times Upfront: This step alone can eliminate the unnecessary back and forth that tends to come with emailed meeting requests. Simply suggest a few dates and times based on your availability (see email template below). By providing options, you'll have a greater chance of getting the meeting booked based on your availability. More often than not, the other person will adjust their schedule to accommodate yours.

  2. Request Alternatives: Should your proposed dates not work, provide specific instructions on suggesting an alternative date and time. Skip this step and you could be back on your way to a game of email ping pong. This can look a few ways:

    1. Ask the recipient to provide 2-3 alternative dates/times if the proposed ones aren't an option for them

    2. Ask them call you to schedule a date and time that works for the both of you

    3. Leverage your department's administrative assistant by including them on the initial request to coordinate the meeting date/time

  3. Provide the Topic: This one is standard but we've all received requests sans a reason for the meeting at one point in our career. State the topic of the meeting or include an agenda. By being clear on the ask, you’ve eliminated the need for the receiving party to ask what the meeting is for.

  4. Attendees: Identify who should be included in the meeting. This can always be done later but if you expect certain individuals to attend make sure they are either included in the initial request or identified in the details.


Let's See That in Action

​Hi Tim, I’d like to schedule a 30 minute call to discuss the project. I’m available Thursday, January 19 between 10A and 12P or Tuesday, January 24 at 2P. If neither of those options work, give me a call after 2P today to schedule a time that works for the both of us. Thanks, Dan


Receiving Vague Requests

Getting open-ended meeting requests? Don't fall into the back-and-forth email game. Just follow the same steps listed above and reply in a similar way:

​Hi Tim, Thanks for reaching out. I’m available Thursday, January 19 between 10A and 12P or Tuesday, January 24 at 2P. If neither of those options work, give me a call after 2P today to schedule a time that works for the both of us. Thanks, Dan


Other Options

Sure, there are other ways to schedule a meeting but whether you should use them or not depends on your role, audience and situation.

  • Delegate to your assistant - If this is an option for you, it should be used sparingly. This approach could make the receiving party feel less than VIP in their eyes. You can never go wrong being personable, so think about the relationship you are building with the recipient before delegating. On the other hand, if you are trying to schedule for a group this option can be a huge time-saver.

  • Grab Time on Their Calendar - A good option for internal meetings. That is unless someone's calendar isn't up-to-date or they have a tendency to book over appointments.

  • - Best for external meeting requests, this one can make things simple. Just send your calendly link and ask someone to pick a date and time. The cautionary in this approach is that it can feel impersonable. Certainly not out of the question but know your audience before you send a link for them to choose, especially with the first interaction.


This Will Save You Time

While the impact may appear small, back and forth email strings slowly eat away our time, deplete our mental energy, and contribute to decision fatigue. Minutes quickly add up to hours and we can all benefit from a few more of both.

What are you currently doing to reduce the back and forth in your email interactions? Share your thoughts and any other helpful ideas.

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